BELGRADE — Two decades after its reporting helped fuel the worst bloodshed in Europe since World War II, Serbia’s state-run television has apologized to viewers throughout the former Yugoslavia for serving as the key propaganda tool of late autocratic leader Slobodan Milosevic in the 1990s.
Radio Television of Serbia, or RTS, said in a statement posted on its website yesterday that the station’s program was “almost constantly and heavily abused’’ by Milosevic’s regime with the aim of discrediting his political and ethnic opponents and spreading official propaganda.
The broadcaster “apologizes to the citizens of Serbia and those of neighboring countries who were subject to insult, slander, and what would now be termed as hate speech,’’ the statement added.
The apology is the first by Serbia’s state broadcaster, which was one of the symbols of Milosevic’s era and a key pillar of his heavy-handed, decadelong rule, marked by wars in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo; international isolation; and economic decline.
Some said it was not enough, considering the damage created by the station’s former warmongering policies.
Liberal politician Marko Karadzic described the apology as a “positive step’’ but said the television’s managing board did not distance itself clearly enough from the past.
“RTS’s program was an organized campaign of support to the policies of extinction and violence which we cannot view as insult or slander,’’ Karadzic said.